Do I Pay My Employee for Jury Duty? And Other California Jury Leave Questions

I try to make this blog strictly objective with very little personal content. ‘Stick to Labor and
Employment Law,’ I tell myself. ‘Stick to information about labor posters and required workplace postings,’ I say. You know, the exciting stuff. But last week I received some mail that I figured I’d share with all of you. It was a letter, in a red envelope and it informed me that I was selected to report for jury duty. Being that I live in California, I figured I would take this opportunity to explore a little bit the California state laws governing jury duty and employment. What are employee responsibilities to their employers? What are employer responsibilities to their workers who might be unable to come to work because they are serving on juries?

In California, an employer is not required to pay an employee any wages for the time that he or she spends out of work to serve on a jury. This applies to time spent away from work while they comply with a jury summons (meaning just the time they go down to the courthouse to report for selection.)

however, and crucially, an employer may not fire, discipline, retaliate, or otherwise penalize an employee for taking time off to serve as on a jury or trial jury given appropriate notice. If the employee gives his employer reasonable notice that he or she is required to serve, then their job is safe as they fulfill their civic duties.

Now it is within an employees rights to decide if they’d like to use their vacation, personal, or compensatory leave for the time that they take to respond to the jury summons or to serve on the jury at a trial itself. That way the employee will be able to be paid for that time spent out of work though the jurisdictions don’t typically pay a lot to serve on the jury, but that’s a different discussion altogether!

For now just know that there is no requirement to post any notices about jury duty that you employees can see in a conspicuous are but it is not a bad idea to have a written policy that your team can refer to. A handy one is available for download from the courts here.